Photography and writing by Adam Sawyer
In part 1 of our Long Beach Peninsula road trip, we left off at the wondrous Willapa National Wildlife Refuge. In part 2, we get onto the Peninsula proper and explore the length of it from south to north. From the Refuge, continue south on Highway 101 to the town of Ilwaco.
The Long Beach Peninsula from Ilwaco to Leadbetter Point State Park
The historic fishing town of Ilwaco sits on the banks of Baker Bay and leans right up against Cape Disappointment State Park, at the bottom of the Long Beach Peninsula. It’s been a long day, and you’re no doubt ready for some food and drink and some rest and relaxation. There’s no shortage of eclectic and outstanding lodging options on the Peninsula, but for this trip, we’re going to call the Salt Hotel & Pub home for the night. The family-friendly facility overlooks the harbor and offers clean, simple rooms that are comfortable and come with a nice pinch of modern sass. The onsite pub is a great place to have dinner and bring that big day to a close.
Rise and shine, friends – there are good times to be had. Power up for the day at ROOTS Juice, Java, and Salad Bar, and then consider your options, cause there are plenty. Not to be bossy, but you kind of have to hit Cape Disappointment out of the gate. Lighthouses, hikes, viewpoints, etc. It’s one of Washington’s finest State Parks, and you woke up right next door to it.
From Cape D, head north into the town of Seaview where you’ll have your first real shot at checking out the beach. There are beach approaches up and down the length of the 28-mile long peninsula, but the Seaview and Long Beach access areas offer additional activities and amenities. If you’re ready for a beer, North Jetty Brewing is THE place you’ll want to find yourself. The family-owned taphouse is a local favorite for so many reasons. If you’re not ready, put a pin in it and come back later.
Continue north into the Peninsula’s namesake town of Long Beach. Take a walk or a bike ride along the paved, winding Discovery Trail. Check out the World Kite Museum, the Funland Family Fun Center, or the world-famous Marsh’s Free Museum, and or any number of art galleries and shops. For the afternoon’s caloric intake, hit the Chowder Stop or Streetside Tacos.
Outside of Long Beach, things open up a little bit. Enjoy the drive and potentially a leg stretch at Loomis Lake or Skating Lake State Parks. Or if you have the time and inclination, a proper hike near the top of the Peninsula at the expansive Leadbetter Point State Park.
Ready for dinner and drinks? Head back down into town and partake in some modern, local fare with a view at the Pickled Fish in the Adrift Hotel, which can also serve as a great place to hunker down for the evening. Or enjoy the time-tested, chef-inspired cuisine and casually elegant ambiance at the Depot Restaurant. Additional overnight options include the historic George Johnson House Bed & Breakfast or the oceanfront access at the Breakers.
The next morning, make your way back down south, perhaps grabbing breakfast at 42nd Street Cafe & Bistro, and then pick a route back from whence you came. Take the Ocean Beach Highway or the 30 out of Astoria to Longview, or retrace the original route coming from Highway 6 or 12 up north. They’ll all get you home eventually, and get you back to the beach when you’re ready for another road trip.
Adam Sawyer is an outdoor and travel writer, photographer, published author, guide, and public speaker based in the Pacific Northwest. His work has appeared in Backpacker, Canoe & Kayak, Alaska Beyond, and British Columbia magazines. As an author, his titles include Hiking Waterfalls Oregon, and Unique Eats and Eateries: Portland, Oregon.